Chamber supports nene delisting

LIHUE — The federal government might remove nene from the endangered species list and the Kauai Chamber of Commerce is reminding everyone to comment on the proposal before it’s too late.

The Department of Interior is recommending the reclassification of the nene from endangered to threatened status, and is soliciting comments until June 1.

“As nene populations rebound, especially on Kauai, many local businesses are burdened by costly regulations put in place when the bird was at critical status,” said Mark Perriello, president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

Reclassifying nene would change the rules for nene management on properties of businesses and landowners, since the endangered Hawaiian goose is making a comeback.

Threatened, under the Endangered Species Act is the less protected of the two categories and species that fall into that category are likely to become an endangered species within the forseeable future, versus being in danger of extinction.

Endangered species receive all of the protections outlined in the ESA, but the ESA protections individual threatened species receive is up to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, according to the agency.

Under the proposed rule, USFWS would remove the ban on intentional harassment of nene that is not likely to cause direct injury or mortality to the birds and the mandated control of introduced predators.

The reclassification investigation was announced at the end of March after 60 years of conservation efforts. In the mid-20th-century there were less than 30 nene in existence, and USFWS officials say their intensive efforts and those of their partners have facilitated the population’s growth to more than 2,800 individuals.

Kauai, Maui, Hawaii Island and Molokai all play home to resident populations of nene.

“Nene devour taro crops, set up residence in hotel swimming pools, and are a danger to landing aircraft. Delisting the nene will ensure the bird still enjoys protections, while offering business owners more options to mitigate damage caused by them,” Perriello said.

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